Monday, March 01, 2004

velvet goldmine

if you're a cretin like me, you think of black-velvet painting as garish elvis or jesus or clown portraits, kind of dusty in someone's grandparents' faded family room. but it is in fact a thing, or at least it was on saturday night, when 00soul and i attended an art opening at bergamot station, this giant art-gallery complex in santa monica that used to be a train station. his pal mary fleener had some pieces in this show ... at patricia correia gallery (and it took me a long time to memorize how to spell that). it was a big crowd crammed into a small space, spilling over into the gallery's other little spaces in which other works were showing.

fleener had i think five pieces: two ... uh? poodle portraits, you might say? and three of her abstract, geometric, sexy, colorful collisions of curvy lines and shifting perceptions. one done all in a most radioactive blue -- which should have been glow-in-the-dark but wasn't -- was particularly eye-catching, but i liked another one better ... multicolored. there were several other artists of widely varied techniques. laura hazlett, whose stuff was on the next wall by fleener's, was quite unique. but i think i preferred the bleak landscapes of sandow birk, paintings of decrepit gas stations and liquor stores at night, stuff like that, against backdrops of the city. realistic, almost like a photograph, yet, when you got up too close to look at a detail, it would reveal itself as a blob of paint on velvet. the form an illusion. neat.

and what sort of velvet does one paint upon? between sips of the 8-year-old black velvet whiskey (product of canada) that was served in clear plastic cups, gratis, i questioned fleener on this point, armed with nothing to compare but my own sartorial experiences with velvet -- an entirely different thing, sort of. apparently, cotton velvet, which really has a nicer feel, is not so good for painting on. it absorbs too much paint, i think she said. but polyester is also not good. (can't remember why ... blame canada.) nylon is her preferred velvet medium, as it is not so absorbent and not deficient in other ways. hmmm.

it was all quite civilized, the art show. so many people, however. tons of schmoozing. very bright lights. a little overwhelming, sensory-wise. but ... kids, old people, a couple of dogs, lotsa 20-50 somethings. people spilled out into the parking lot, hanging around with their cigarettes and cups of booze, and no bouncers came along to tell them they couldn't drink outside, or whatever. and everyone had manners. it was lovely.

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